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‘Outstanding’ Linda Ray honored by Association for the Gifted

‘Outstanding’ Linda Ray honored by Association for the Gifted
‘Outstanding’ Linda Ray honored by Association for the Gifted
Linda Ray

There is no concise way to say exactly what it is that South Harrison Community School Corp. Linda Ray does.
She’s test coordinator for ISTEP; Drug Free, Title II and Dwight D. Eisenhower Professional Develop-ment Program coordinator; liaison between the homeless caseworker and South Harrison, and between classroom teachers and first-year teachers who require a mentor; central office contact for school counselors; summer school, Jump Start remediation and English Second Language coordinator; and Stuart B. McKinney Homeless Programs grant manager.
But, first and foremost, Ray, 63, is the corporation’s director of enrichment, and, for her role in educating South Harrison’s brightest students, she has been named Outstanding Gifted and Talented Educator by the Indiana Association for the Gifted.
Ray once led a ‘pullout’ program, removing kids identified as gifted from their classrooms and instructing them in special sessions wherever space was available.
Those programs no longer exist in South Harrison’s inclusive environment. Instead, students identified as gifted remain in the classroom, and their needs are met through ‘differentiation’ in which the teacher determines the student’s best learning style.
‘I guess the philosophy is that if you are gifted, you are gifted all the time, not just on Tuesdays and Thursdays for an hour and a half,’ Ray said.
‘Now they call it the talent pool. Three to five percent were identified as gifted. Now it’s a larger group of about 12 to 15 percent. If you are gifted and I am sort of, I can really learn from you,’ Ray explained.
So Ray and Linda Burnham, the corporation’s director of technology, lead the district’s professional development programs, educating teachers on how to reach gifted and challenged learners and all those in between.
Administrator is a hat Ray wears well, and she attributes that to roles she performed as a child.
Growing up as the daughter of a Baptist minister and the granddaughter of the mayor in small Nortonville, Ky., there was no time to be shy.
Ray kept the cookie case in her grandfather’s hardware store.
‘My job was to keep them clean and straight, and I got all the profits.’
She was a member of Baptist Training Union, delivering presentations and providing refreshments while being rewarded with hayrides and swimming for a job well done.
‘I credit church for being comfortable speaking to a crowd.’
She played the piano and sang duets with her sister, providing musical accompaniment at funerals and weddings, often for people she didn’t know.
‘I give that credit for making me who I am today as much as my education.’
Ray attended Western Kentucky University and the University of Kentucky, where she earned a degree in art education. She came to Corydon with her husband, Macon Ray, and taught art during the early 1970s.
She earned a master’s degree and additional certification from Indiana University, and that road found her before South Harrison’s most prolific learners.
It has been more than 15 years since Ray has had her own classroom, but, once a teacher always a teacher.
‘The other day I did a book study, and it all came back,’ Ray said.
Leading a class in discussion of Irene Hunt’s ‘No Promises in the Wind,’ a book about the Great Depression, Ray was surprised to find that many of the children had never heard of hobos.
‘Hobos would come straight to our house. The kids I was working with last week, that was all completely new information,’ she said.
‘When you watch their faces, it’s just amazing. They’re like sponges, and when you make it interesting like that, that’s when they want to learn. I had almost forgotten why I did this.’
Ray plans to retire at end of upcoming academic year.